Three Border Patrol agents have committed suicide in the last three weeks, in what may be a particularly grim sign of troubling conditions and disarray at the U.S.-Mexico border, reports the New York Post.
In all, 14 agents have committed suicide in 2022, according to sources who spoke with the news outlet, including Robert M. Boatwright, 49, who was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Boatwright, who committed suicide on Nov. 20, was a canine handler and lived with his law enforcement dog.
"Sadly, early indications suggest that BPA Boatwright succumbed to suicide," tweeted Chief Raul Ortiz, the head of the Border Patrol.
"I recently met with BPA Boatwright's co-workers, and they described his amazing work ethic and willingness to help others."
Supervisory Border Patrol agents Roque Sarinana and Javier Fabela also took their lives this month.
Customs and Border Patrol has, as a result, hired suicidologist Dr. Kent Corso to help with preventing more self-harm. He has traveled to Laredo, Texas, to meet with agents and plans to travel to the Rio Grande Valley, where two of those who committed suicide worked.
"There is no higher priority for CBP than taking care of our people," said a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a statement to The Post.
"CBP has expanded the number of on-site clinicians and is hiring over a dozen operational psychologists. Together, these licensed professionals implement an evidence-based suicide prevention and intervention program."
Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, told the Post the suicides were a "very serious epidemic that's happening within the agency."
"Work has gotten very difficult on them," explained Gonzales, who is in touch with Border Patrol agents every day. "I've seen it in their faces. I've heard it in their voices for months now. It's almost, 'How much can a person take?' And often, they've taken a lot before they break."
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